“Where the hell are you?” I screamed, banged on his door at 3 in the morning, I couldn’t believe it was driving me crazy, because he’d travel an hour to see me so late. What sport was my boy playing?

No, it wasn’t a boyfriend screwing me. He was my utensil dealer. I waited for him in the subzero cold, wearing a flimsy blazer with $100 in my pocket, alone in a strange Queens neighborhood that suddenly seemed dangerous.

I ran there to buy a small bag of strong, light green Hawaiian weed and was somehow surprised that a guy who was often stoned and sold drugs for a living would be so incredulous.

Finally he let me into his dorm, and we quickly replaced my money with his stash. Then, dreading taking the subway so late (many years before Uber), I had to find another cab to get home to my Greenwich Village studio and smoke my fix.

I was a nice Jewish girl finishing up her master’s program who had just landed a coveted (albeit low-paid) job as editorial assistant at a top magazine. Why was I risking my safety for this midnight excursion? I didn’t see any alternative, as I had unexpectedly run out of my daily dose and couldn’t find anyone close enough to share, loan or sell me.

I used to buy dime bags in the Washington Square Park block – until someone sold me oregano and I realized there was no better business bureau to take my complaints to. I wanted to fly so high that my mind flew out the window of the cab that I could not afford.

Addiction is desire on steroids. You not only want something, but you will do anything to get it, craving it so badly that it seems you will die without it. In my case, this included frequent sweating, shaking, crying, and going through withdrawal whenever I didn’t get it. And yes, you can become physically dependent on marijuana.

I fit the textbook definition of an addict, someone with a compulsive physiological need for a habit-forming substance – actually several different ones.

In a psychology class, I read about Stanford University’s so-called marshmallow test, which showed that children who were able to delay gratification would be more successful later in life. I laughed because I would literally eat a bag of marshmallows as a kid, as well as gobble up all the Lucky Charms as soon as the cereal appeared in our pantry.

By age 13 in suburban Michigan, I had become a nicotine-taker like my tough doctor father because it was a way for me to suppress my appetite. My first boyfriend turned me on to Bob Dylan, dope (as we called it back then) and cocaine before he slept with two of my roommates on magic mushrooms.

“Wanting is a weakness,” wrote Margaret Atwood in “”The Handmaid’s Tale, I had many weaknesses over the years. His compulsive consumption of cigarettes and pot included up to 12 cans of mixed tabs per day and diet pills, champagne, rum (mixed with diet soda), vodka, Juicy Fruit gum, popcorn and cupcake icing.

At 29, I met a kind, older, curly-haired screenwriter who was simply addicted to me. I told the boss who fixed us, “He’s smart and cute, but not my type.” She said: “Your type is neurotic, self-destructive and not into you. Go out with him again.”

I got married at the age of 35. Right after we said, “I do,” he told me he hated the smell of smoke in our house and that I needed to quit smoking and partying. I threatened to leave her. The only problem was that we had thrown huge wedding parties with all our friends, colleagues and relatives, and then emptied our savings and borrowed more to buy an apartment. Plus, I loved her.

Luckily, she found me a fabulous new shrink, a tough-talking paternal figure who was an addiction specialist. It was a few weeks after 9/11, when we were both in shock and grief in downtown Manhattan. I had just turned 40.

“I’ve been reading obituaries from people my age who were killed. I can’t stop thinking that if I died tomorrow, I would never have achieved what I really wanted in life,” I Selfishly accepted.

“What do you want most?” He asked.

“I want to publish my book.”

I confessed that I felt like a loser because the story I had spent seven years revising had been rejected. I helped many students find agents and editors; I was like the wedding planner who couldn’t get married. I yearned for a book deal so badly I could taste it. After seeing that my desire to get healthy was not motivating enough, he told me that my memoir would only sell if I stopped smoking, toking and drinking. (Never mind that many of the writers were well-known rumpers, smokers, totters, snuffers, and even heroin shooters.)

For an all-out assault against my bad habits, I avoided bars, parties, smokers, drinkers, and druggies—basically my entire social circle of writers and artists. I did weekly talk sessions with him, supplementing the emergency phone calls and emails he would answer, often up to five times a day. I was itchy, twitchy, anxious, angry, lonely, and lost for months. I cried for no reason. He admitted that I had the worst substance withdrawal he had ever seen and that I was his most taxing patient.

“Everyone you know falls into two categories,” he said. “If they’re part of the problem, avoid them. If they’re part of the solution, watch them more.” She wrote tidbits and instructions on the back of the business card she handed me, such as “The problem with every substance I’ve ever seen.” It is a deep depression that seems unbearable.”

“Keep your husband close to you without speaking for an hour every night” was a mantra I shared with my partner, who obeyed. I guess if we can’t talk, we can’t argue. (Plus, his arms were soothing.) I became dependent on his touch to keep me calm.

When I mentioned chewing gum or vegetables throughout the day, my anxiety subsided. “Your personality is so habit-forming, you could be hooked on carrot sticks,” he told me. “Diet and exercise. Portion control. Don’t overeat or you’ll just be messing up the substance.”

“What can I have? Water? Tea?” I asked, tired of leaving everyone.

“You can keep your mouth shut and not put anything in it for hours,” he told me—an option that, until then, had never really crossed my mind.

Constantly warning me that anyone can become addicted to anything, he mentioned other patients who had gone down a rabbit hole of gambling, charity work, church events, shopping, adventure sports, fraud and danger.

“Beware of all excitement because it takes you out of yourself and you always have to go back into yourself,” he said. For me, this meant getting back to 13, before getting instant gratification Band-Aids of two packs a day of more menthol lights to fill the fear and emptiness.

I was so addicted to the substance that a girlfriend emailed me, “Hey let’s get together and have some water.”

Amazingly, the treatment was wildly successful. After nine months—a poetic deadline—I sold my memoir about the handful of self-destructive relationships I had left, titled “Five men who broke my heart.” Then I sold a sequel about five self-destructive substances I gave up”Light UP, How I stopped smoking, drinking And everything Anything else? I loved IAnn Life except gender“Chronicing Our Addiction Therapy.”

Cover of one of the author’s books.

random house publishing group

A neuroscientist whose book I read argued that since people learn to be addicted, they can learn not to be. Yet based on my own experience, I doubted that an addict could become a non-addict. Instead, you simply replace addictions by focusing your powerful energy elsewhere. (This is why members of Alcoholics Anonymous often have coffee or donuts and puff cigarettes outside their meetings.)

Publishing replacement books for other dependencies. It was exhilarating to hear an editor say yes; I felt like I had found God or at least a power greater than nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, gum or soda – substances I haven’t touched in 20 years and no longer desire. Sometimes I would miss something by wanting it so badly that it would drive me crazy.

Last summer I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with my screenwriter husband. By that time I had authored or co-authored 17 books. Interestingly, a new study revisited adults who took the 1972 marshmallow experiment and rejected the original results, showing no difference between those who took the marshmallow experiment and those who did not. Didn’t keep those who used to behave like drunkards.

I saw flaws in the premise that delaying gratification was the key to success. long nnew York Times The editor told a writing class I teach that the writers he’d seen become most famous were the most passionate. Someone fueled by passion overtakes a brilliant, patient guy without drive.

In my 50s, I woke up every day as hyper as the Energizer Bunny, drinking green tea and running to my computer to see what my agents, editors, or critics had to say.

“Book deals and press are your new cocaine,” warns my shrink by email.

The alternatives seem safer and more benign – except for the months when I can’t make a new clip or the years when there’s no book deal forthcoming. Then I feel like I’m still banging on doors all the time, frustrated and frustrated when they don’t open to give me my fix.

In these cases, I turn back to teletherapy for an emergency tuneup, a less sinister addiction that involves limits, boundaries, and dependence on another human being. Yet I’m still paying him to help me reshape my endless hunger pangs into what I want: the thrill of reaping the next prize.

Susan Shapiro is the bestselling author of several books about her family’s hatred, including “burn” And “unhooked, an award-winning Manhattan writing professor now teaching onlineyou can follow her on instagram @profsue123 or on twitter @susanshapironet, This essay is excerpted from the upcoming Catapult anthology.Chahat: Women who wrote about desire,

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